20 Linux Alternatives for Common Windows Applications

A Linux pundit spotlights his favorite Linux alternatives to popular Windows software.
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Looking for Linux alternatives to Windows software? Here are twenty choice Linux apps you might want to consider.


1- LibreOffice: Some might point out that Oracle's own Open Office is still very much an option, but the fact is that Linux distributions are or have already migrated to LibreOffice in its stead. Unlike the proprietary-friendly Microsoft Office, LibreOffice offers the end-user much of the same functionality without the added cost of proprietary licensing. However, the biggest downside to LibreOffice has to be the lack of proper formatting support when opening a Microsoft docx document. While the document may be supported, chances are fantastic that the previous formatting won't hold.

2- GIMP: It's been my experience that you either embrace GIMP software or run PhotoShop in WINE as an alternative. Speaking for myself, I've found that GIMP offers most of the functionality one looks for with an image manipulator. The only real issue I've ever found with GIMP is that PhotoShop users refuse to learn about its differences. I think most of the aversion to using GIMP is familiarity and laziness. Others will likely see this differently, though.

3- Swiftfox: One might think of Swiftfox as a version of Firefox that is fine-tuned for your PC’s architecture. Designed exclusively for Linux enthusiasts, the project has produced some promising results for several years now. The biggest single advantage over Firefox releases 3.x (and backward) is the speed provided. At this point, however, the future of the project looks really spotty. According to some recent indicators, it seems the project may be in trouble, and a new Firefox 5.x based release looks very unlikely. Then again, it's entirely possible this long lived project could pick back up despite current setbacks.

4- Open Shot: I've found that Open Shot is easily my favorite video editor for the Linux desktop. If someone is looking for a solid Windows Live Movie Maker type of software for Linux, Open Shot should be the first place to look.

With fantastic transitions and video/audio effects, Open Shot offers a little something for everyone. Open Shot's video editing is simple and doesn't need any added time with the help manual. The only real downside to using Open Shot is that it lacks some of the advanced functionality offered by its KDE counterpart, Kdenlive.

5- Network-manager: Regardless of which desktop environment you happen to use, you’ll find that network-manager makes connecting to the Internet a straight forward process for Linux users. Even though the front-end applets and interfaces may differ from desktop to desktop, in the end you'll find that the experience is universally comparable to that of managing wired/wireless connections on the Window desktop.

It has been said that, in some ways, the Linux options offer a greater degree of control. The biggest hurdle that I've come across is that Linux wireless support can be hit and miss.

6- Evolution: I may be going out on a limb by suggesting Evolution as a practical Microsoft Outlook alternative. Then again, if you're seeking a reliable way to connect to Microsoft Exchange without relying on IMAP, Evolution is pretty much "it" for that goal.

The downside to Evolution is that compared to its KDE counterpart Kontact, Evolution looks like something from 15 years ago. Not only that, but Kontact offers a better layout to the features provided, as well. Sadly though, the last fifty or so times I've checked, Microsoft Exchange support for Kontact was only half done. Then again, it's entirely possible that OpenChange is changing all that.

7- F-Spot: Despite Ubuntu's choice to start including other, less useful options by default, it and other distributions continue to offer the Windows Live Photo Gallery alternative known as F-Spot within its repositories. The best of the included features offer a powerful yet simple interface that allows each person to edit and color correct their photos.

Albums, tagging and sorting – F-Spot can do it all. The biggest issue I have with it is the lack of photo stitching functionality that is offered by its Microsoft counterpart.

8- gtkpod: On the Windows platform, iPod users rely on iTunes for management of their iPod devices. But for Linux enthusiasts, this can be a bit more complex as there are different ways of handling music management or iPod formatting. While other software runs many of the same libraries, gtkpod has consistently provided a solid way of managing older iPod type devices.

The biggest downside to the software is the lack of updated iOS support. It's an Apple problem: each time the libraries are updated on the Linux side, Apple releases another update putting things back to square one.

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Tags: Linux, Gnome, KDE, LibreOffice

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